Re: CG: Re: A simplistic definition of "ontology"

Michael Uschold (
Wed, 15 Oct 1997 10:14:16 -0700

Mike Uschold said:

>There are wide differences in the nature and extent to which meaning of terms
>is specified for these different purposes. Although there are some
>similarities in the goals of these efforts, I am not so sure that they are
>similar enough that we can clearly define what we mean by a successful
>cooperation interms of specific benefits that all camps could enjoy.

John Sowa responded:

. I agree that there are wide differences in the amount of semantics that
. various groups have been using for different purposes. But when any one
. of these groups expands their range of interests, they get into the deeper
. issues that are identical for all of them.

To which I say:

I'm not sure that many or any of the various groups WANT to expand their
interests, precisely because focus and progress in their area is what counts
for the most. This is my whole point. Unless there are clear advantages for
more than one group to expand their interests and cooperate to address the
deeper common problems -- there is little motivation to do so.

In my perception, those whose interests are to address the deeper common
problems, have so far largely failed to convince the various more specific
groups of the practical utility of doing so. This seems related to the
observation that was made in the March Ontological Enginering symposium that
there is a gap in the middle level for ontologies. Many high level ones exist,
and so also do many very domain specific ones. I have never seen a convincing
argument or illustration that there is benefit to be derived from the effort of
tying them together - in a particular practical context.

Im my own experience in developing and applying the Enterprise Ontology at
Edinburgh, this phenomenon manifested itself *within* this specific domain. We
had an `upper level' enterprise ontology, but when it came to specific
applications which required the ontology to be extended, there was a big gap,
which was bridged in a very minor way. And although it was in my own interest
to bridge it so we could demonstrate utility of the Enterprise Ontology, I
was struggling to convince even myself of the tangible benefit for the scope of
that exercise (i.e. short term).
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> There is much more that could
> be said about this topic, and perhaps we can get into further discussions
> at the T2 meeting in November.

Yes indeed.

Mike Uschold